PEA RIDGE (KFSM) -- Officials of the Pea Ridge School District are asking voters to raise taxes for the future of children`s education.
They're asking voters to approve a 3.9 millage increase; bringing the millage rate up to 48.7 due to overcrowding issues. This will be voted on Tuesday (Feb. 13).
That means for every $100,000 in property someone owns, they'll pay an extra $78 a year in property taxes.
“There is not enough classroom space but there also isn`t enough of the space that people might not think about as much, the hallways, the bathrooms, the cafeteria is not enough. Those things are vital in our day-to-day operations of the building,” said Pea Ridge Assistant Superintendent Keith Martin.
The district has a growth rate of 4.5 percent a year, and they believe this new school will be able to get them through the next 10 years.
Through the state partnership program, they will kick in 52 percent of the funding, so about $10.7 million and Pea Ridge taxpayers will pick up the additional 48 percent needed to build the high school.
If it passes they hope to be able to move into the new high school by the fall of 2020. Next year they will have to have even more modular classrooms than they already have. They expect to have at least an additional 40 or 50 new students.
In May of 2017 voters rejected a mill increase of 5.1. Martin said they went back and got community input.
The main concerns are that the ask was too high and the location of the new school would cause traffic issues.
“We reduced the millage ask from 5.1 to 3.9, we changed the location of the sight from North of town to on Hazelton road. We`ve shown a traffic plan to our stakeholders that we will be able to pull the majority of our car rider lines onto our campus,” he said.
Martin said when this high school opened in October of 1999 there were just 281 students who went here and today the number has grown to just under 700.
Alderman Ray Easley said this is an important step they need to take.
“Our kids that come out of Pea Ridge, I`ve seen more and more come to college, better educations. I`ve seen more and more kids that are ready to step into career jobs. I think it`s a good thing. I hope the citizens will see this too and get out and vote for it,” he said.
If the millage increase passes this will give the district the ability to have about 250 kids per grade and allow them to grow into a district of about 3,200 hundred kids.